Not much happens in Whale Beach, a beautiful, sleepy enclave of just 250 people immediately south of Palm Beach at the far end of the Northern Beaches peninsula.
And that’s precisely how many well-heeled locals want to keep it. They are not enamoured by the prospect of the Boathouse Group’s popular but now-closed Whale Beach Deli kiosk expanding into a 170-seat restaurant.
The redevelopment was proposed by the Cassar tourism industry family, which owns the property and lives in the attached apartments. Patriarch Les Cassar chaired Tourism NSW in the 2000s and his son Anthony runs the family company Aviation Online.
Their proposal has upset a who’s who of corporate Australia who live in the area, and they have inundated Northern Beaches Council with concerns about noise, traffic, parking and a general disturbance of the peace.
“Road rage is not unusual along this thin strip of Whale Beach Road,” wrote Lea Cleary, wife of television presenter Mike Munro. “If this proposal is allowed to go ahead, traffic will become far more choked and frustrating – along with the help of laws that allow drinking until 10pm.”
Sydney developer and chairman of Friends of Sydney Harbour John Molyneaux was reminded of the bad old days when Bill Drakopoulos’ Ripples restaurant did a roaring trade just across the road.
“The attendant noise was a constant upset to our enjoyment,” he wrote in his submission. The planned restaurant was “obviously going to be used for weddings and major celebrations … Please, therefore, refuse this huge-sized restaurant so that this acoustical nightmare can’t happen again.”
The council also received written objections from Michael Shehadie, the son of former NSW governor Dame Marie Bashir and the late Sir Nicholas Shehadie, as well as Magellan’s head of investments Gerald Stack, former Goldman Sachs boss Charles Gorman, Travelogic founder Craig Smith and Macquarie director Phil Coffey.
Margot Coleman, the widow of late radio funnyman Jonathan Coleman, was particularly concerned about the impact on parking, while merchant banker Mike Crivelli – who paid $7.2 million for his Whale Beach Road pad in 2006 – feared for people’s safety.